© istock/ SergeyVButorin
© istock/ SergeyVButorin

The riveting Museum of Nicholas II's Family in Tobolsk

4 minutes to read

The life of state leaders is always of interest to ordinary people. It doesn’t matter if these leaders are contemporaries or people from the past. Someone will always be driven by pure curiosity to find out more about their existence, their history, or the mistakes they have made. The tragic fate of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, and his family is of no exception. I invite you to visit the riveting Museum of Nicholas II's Family in Tobolsk, where the emperor, his wife, and children spent their lives in exile for several months before being sent for execution in Yekaterinburg.

© bundesarchiv.de/ unknown author
© bundesarchiv.de/ unknown author

Love at first sight

Dynastic marriages are not always committed for love, but the story of Nikolas Romanov and Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt is full of sincere, tender feelings. Alice was born in 1872 in Darmstadt. At six years old, she was orphaned and was taken up by her grandmother, Queen of England, Victoria. The girl had a kind, gentle character, she was blond, and at court, she was nicknamed "Sunny."

When Alice was 12 years old, she first came to Russia for the wedding of her sister Ella with the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. The sixteen-year-old heir to the Russian throne saw her and fell in love at first sight. However, the next meeting between Nicholas and Alice took place only five years later, when Alice again came to Petersburg to see her sister.

There are no barriers to love

© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author
© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author

In 1889, when the heir to the Tsarevich turned twenty-one, he asked his parents to bless him in marriage with Princess Alice. But his father, Alexander the Third, said that Nikolas was too young to get married. Queen Victoria was also against this marriage. However, when later Victoria met with Tsarevich Nikolai, he made an excellent impression on her, and the opinion of the English ruler changed.

The next time Alice arrived in Russia, Nikolas was forbidden to see her. But love conquers all obstacles. In 1894, newspapers announced the engagement of the Crown Prince and Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt. On the day of the engagement, Nikolas wrote in his diary: “A wonderful, unforgettable day in my life — the day of my engagement with dear Alix. I walk all day as if outside of myself, not fully aware of what is happening to me."

Stay together forever

© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author
© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author

On November 14, 1894, the long-awaited wedding took place. Alice received a new name, Alexandra Fedorovna Romanova. In the royal family, five children were born - four daughters and a son, heir to the throne, Tsarevich Alexei. Many trials fell on Nikolas  and Alexandra - a severe illness of the heir, wars, riots, and a revolution

During the revolution in February 1917, Nicholas II abdicated. The royal family was arrested, and in the summer, by the decision of the Provisional Government, they were sent into exile in Tobolsk. On their wedding night, Alice wrote in Nikolas' diary: “When this life ends, we will meet again in another world and stay together forever ...”

The Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II

© Ayrat Ismagilov
© Ayrat Ismagilov

The Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II is part of the Tobolsk Museum-Reserve complex. It was opened recently, in 2018, but has already managed to gain popularity. Specialists restored the decorations of the rooms from photographs and documents of that time. They carefully preserved what is possible. For example, here is a genuine door that the Romanovs often opened and closed.

© Ayrat Ismagilov
© Ayrat Ismagilov

The building in which the museum is located is called the Governor's House - at the end of the 20th century, it was the residence of the Governor-General. Members of the Romanov family often visited this house, traveling through Siberian open spaces. It is known that Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich and the Grand Dukes Vladimir and Alexander visited the residence. After the February Revolution, the mansion was empty, and in August 1917, the Governor's House became the place of confinement of the family of Nicholas II.

© Ayrat Ismagilov
© Ayrat Ismagilov

The pearls of the museum's exposition are personal items of members of the imperial family. It is known that Nicholas II was a passionate collector. Among the exhibits, you can see watches, pipes, and cigarette cases from his collections.

© Ayrat Ismagilov
© Ayrat Ismagilov

The life of the royal family in exile

© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author
© brbl-dl.library.yale/ unknown author

Tobolsk became for the imperial family a place where they were, paradoxical as it sounds, happy. They were together and, for the first time, could devote all their time to each other. The Romanovs lived in Spartan conditions. They slept on iron beds and had minimal furniture. They themselves washed and repaired broken things. Nikolas loved to cut firewood. The children did their homework, read, and Nikolas Romanov worked in his parlor. A pond was dug for ducks.

The Romanovs loved to drink tea with the whole family in the evenings by the fireplace. They read-aloud books, played music, and sometimes staged home performances. First, they were allowed to go to church, but they were soon forbidden to do so, and an iconostasis was installed in the house.

© Ayrat Ismagilov
© Ayrat Ismagilov

The riveting museum's staff managed to create a cozy atmosphere of the quiet happiness corresponding to the time and spirit on the eve of the great tragedy. A visit to the museum of Nicolas II's family in Tobolsk will make everyone think about the vicissitudes of fate, and teach us to appreciate the momentary little joys because no one knows what awaits us tomorrow. If this story about the beauty of the Romanov family touched your heart, then you will also want to visit the homeland of Rasputin - a close person of the imperial family - in Pokrovskoye.

The Museum of the Family of Nicholas II, Tobolsk
The Museum of the Family of Nicholas II, Tobolsk

The author

Natalya Lisovskaya

Natalya Lisovskaya

Hi, I'm Natalya, a journalist from the ancient Siberian city of Tyumen, in the Ural Federal District. I love my Siberian land, its rich history and the harsh and majestic beauty of its nature. I hope you will fall in love with it too, after reading my stories.

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